Vanuatu to Solomons, Day 4

Sophie’s current location is 09.34.435 South, 158.39.830 East. We sailed 149 miles in the last 24 hours, and have just 140 miles to go before we drop the anchor in front of the government wharf in Gizo, presumably tomorrow morning. We turned a motor on earlier today to make sure that we have a good chance of doing so first thing. Once we clear customs and immigration in Gizo, we plan to travel another 14 miles to the harbor in Lipari, where there is a small community built around a local boatyard. We are looking forward to hanging out there for a few days before starting out on our leg to Kavieng, Papua New Guinea. That city is 490 miles north of Lipari.

Sophie has sailed 580 miles in the last 100 hours, and all of that has been straight downwind. This has been our longest stretch of straight downwind sailing ever. We’ve had the motor on for 8 hours during that period of time and had the chute up twice. We will definitely adopt a double headsail downwind approach before we cross the Indian Ocean, because I think it will add another 20-50 miles per day to our performance at this wind angle. It also gives us another project to work on over the next year.

There is not much else to report. Everyone has developed their sea legs and is sleeping soundly through the night. We finally caught our fish, a 20 pound mahi mahi with the pole and a very small lure. The fish fought very hard and jumped 10 times before we landed her on the boat. She provided five meals for the freezer plus some meat in the fridge that I assume we will eat tonight. Last night Lauren produced a roasting pan full of pumpkin, honey, chicken, cabbage, and other really good stuff. She is spoiling us with her work in the galley.

The weather remains hot and very humid. We continue to sail through rain squalls and struggle to keep the cabin cool. Jenna just rigged some lines across our foredeck to prevent the jib sheets from catching underneath our forward salon hatches. They seem to be helping.

I do the late night watch and was able to experience a spectacular sunrise over Guadalcanal this morning. The island is 80 miles long, with a ridge of mountains running down its spine. Low, puffy cumulus clouds blocked a direct view of the sun and bathed the entire eastern sky in golden light. I wanted to stop the boat just to watch. In ten years I will probably forget most of the day-to-day details of this trip, but my Guadalcanal sunrise today is something I will keep with me forever.

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